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Notarize photographs, photocopies, and pictures in San Francisco

California Notaries Public are often presented with photocopies and photographs to notarize. Are you able to notarize photograph, or photocopy of a document? What about a copy of my passport or birth certificate? The requester says the picture needs to be notarized.

Many foreign entities and countries require that photocopies of documentation be notarized or certified prior to them accepting them. While some states do allow notaries to certify copies of documents, California is not one of the states that allows this. California notaries are only able to notarize documents with original signatures. The only document that a California Notary Public can notarize is a copy certification of power of attorney.

There are documents that notaries can be presented with in California that are able to be notarized in which the person presenting the document certifies and attests to the photocopy themselves, however, the notary can never certify the photocopy as an official act of a Notary Public. Such document is sometimes referred to as Copy Certification by Document Custodian. Notarization of this document would simply be the notary notarizing the signature of the owner of the document, in them stating that it is a photocopy of an original.

California Notaries Public are prohibited from stamping documents of any sort that do not contain the required notarial certificate verbiage. We cannot simply stamp a photocopy with our seal in order to appease requirements of other countries or states. While some notaries may do this, it is illegal and can result in fines and removal of a Notaries commission.

Contact the country, business, or agency that needs the certified photocopies in order to get their advise on what they will accept for notarization since you are located in California and it is prohibited. Ask them what alternative methods they will accept, such as copy certification by document custodian etc. It is up to them what THEY WILL ACCEPT, not what the notary is able to do.